Men struggling with mental health urged to reach out to friendly Biggleswade support group
'For Men To Talk’ gives men the chance to speak with other fellow sufferers and improve their well-being.
Help is at hand for men struggling with their mental health thanks to a Biggleswade support group that's going from strength to strength.
'For Men To Talk’ was established by Luke Newman in December 2019, after the loss of his mother and sister inspired him to reach out to others who felt isolated and in a dark place.
Before the pandemic, the group used to meet at Jones' Cafe in Biggleswade High Street, but like many other classes and activities, the group has moved online until restrictions have eased.
Luke, from Potton, said: "In late December 2019, I set up a Facebook group called 'For Men To Talk’ giving men who were suffering with anxiety, depression and grief the chance to talk with other fellow sufferers and improve their well-being.
"I have suffered with anxiety and grief from losing both my Mum and sister to cancer, but I have always been open with my mental illness. I know a lot of people aren't, especially men. I want to change that with 'For Men To Talk'."
Luke's initiative is now a Community Interest Company and he is currently looking into funding.
He also attended a recent meeting of Biggleswade Town Council to inform councillors about its achievements.
Cllr Grant Fage said: "Thank you for what you're doing in the community, Luke. I've seen a lot of your activity on social media. I'm sure for those involved it's been very valuable. There is funding out there post-coronavirus when the government takes on projects such as this or pushes favourable grants or tax breaks, which potentially could be taken advantage of. Thank you for helping us keep our eyes open for these sort of things."
Cllr Jonathan Woodhead added: "All power to your elbow in terms of the work you're doing, Luke. If we can think of any ideas or help we'll be in touch. Drop Richard Fuller a line as our MP as I'm sure he'd be a good advocate for your group and taking things forward. Keep him in the loop. And keep up the good work. (Luke interjected that Mr Fuller had attended one of their meetings)."
Cllr Mark Knight said: "The town council has a grant application process. It's an annual process, so that may be something you want to look at the details of on the website. How many people have you been able to help since you started in Biggleswade? And how many typically join your weekly meetings?"
Luke replied: "For our first meeting last February (2020), we were expecting four or five men to come through the door and there were 23. We're getting 16 or 17 regular attendees. I reckon around 75 men in the last year or so, which is a fantastic number."
The 'For Men To Talk' virtual group meeting is held every Wednesday from 6pm.
Looking to the future, Luke would love to take 'For Men to Talk' to different places once the restrictions are fully eased.
Luke lost his mum aged 54 (when he was 24) and his sister five years ago when she was 44 to cancer. He hopes he can help others who have suffered emotionally and is now looking for funding to make 'For Men To Talk' a full-time career.
To find out more, visit: www.formentotalk.co.uk